Insects possess a suite of antioxidant enzymes and small molecular weight antioxidants that may form a concatenated response to an onslaught of dietary and endogenously produced oxidants. Antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione transferase, and glutathione reductase have been characterized in insects. Water-soluble and lipid-soluble antioxidants such as ascorbate, glutathione, tocopherols, and carotenoids have not been well studied in insects but may play very important antioxidant roles. Additionally, the peritrophic matrix and trehalose may possess important antioxidant functions in insects. The enzymatic recycling of ascorbate, first noted in green plants, may also exist in insects. A greater understanding of these antioxidant systems may provide greater understanding about the ecological relationships of insects with their hosts. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.